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Session: 2022/23

Last modified: 05/04/2022 17:27:49

Title of Module: Crisis & Communication

Code: SSPG11017 SCQF Level: 11
(Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework)
Credit Points: 20 ECTS: 10
(European Credit Transfer Scheme)
School:School of Education & Social Sciences
Module Co-ordinator:J  Molina

Summary of Module

The module provides students a critical understanding of the communication issues before, during and after a crisis, and aims to let students reflect on effective policy and decision making. Students will learn how to apply different methodological approaches in a rigorous manner to study crisis communication, and demonstrate awareness of the limitations of each approach. Furthermore, students are provided with an opportunity to consider key problems in the practice of crisis communication, including the influence of new communication technologies, and the global, ‘wicked’ character of crisis management. The module then turns to examine the practice of crisis communication in a more focused manner. Students will learn about crisis communication in different organizational and political contexts, using case studies about the oil industry, and educational settings.


Students will experience a series of lectures, and class discussions, and student learning is elicited through group exercises, class presentations, a simulation, and essay writing. The simulation will consider a crisis in an international organisation. Students will role-play the events as they unfold in the organisation, and will discuss how to successfully engage in crisis communication.


  • Introduction to crisis communication

  • Communication before, during and after a Crisis

  • Methodological approaches to crisis communication (case studies; textual analysis; content analysis; experimental)

  • Technology and Crisis Communication

  • The Global dimension of Crisis Communication

  • Crisis Communication in Organizational Contexts (Oil Industry; Education)

Module Delivery Method
Face-To-FaceBlendedFully OnlineHybridCHybridOWork-based Learning
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Term used to describe the traditional classroom environment where the students and the lecturer meet synchronously in the same room for the whole provision.

A mode of delivery of a module or a programme that involves online and face-to-face delivery of learning, teaching and assessment activities, student support and feedback. A programme may be considered “blended” if it includes a combination of face-to-face, online and blended modules. If an online programme has any compulsory face-to-face and campus elements it must be described as blended with clearly articulated delivery information to manage student expectations

Fully Online
Instruction that is solely delivered by web-based or internet-based technologies. This term is used to describe the previously used terms distance learning and e learning.

Online with mandatory face-to-face learning on Campus

Online with optional face-to-face learning on Campus

Work-based Learning
Learning activities where the main location for the learning experience is in the workplace.

Campus(es) for Module Delivery
The module will normally be offered on the following campuses / or by Distance/Online Learning: (Provided viable student numbers permit)
Paisley:Ayr:Dumfries:Lanarkshire:London:Distance/Online Learning:Other:
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Term(s) for Module Delivery
(Provided viable student numbers permit).
Term 1check markTerm 2check markTerm 3check mark

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Learning Outcomes: (maximum of 5 statements)

On successful completion of this module the student will be able to:

L1. Demonstrate critical understanding of, and engagement with, the dominant theories and concepts in the field of communication and policy making, as it relates to the management of crises

L2. Formulate, analyse and evaluate communication policies to crisis situations

L3. Apply a range of techniques to examine the relationship between communication and crises, and coherently present the outcomes of this enquiry

L4. Demonstrate collaborative working and academic reflection

Employability Skills and Personal Development Planning (PDP) Skills
SCQF Headings During completion of this module, there will be an opportunity to achieve core skills in:
Knowledge and Understanding (K and U) SCQF Level 11.

A1 Develop critical understanding of interdisciplinary research across the social sciences

A2 Abstraction: Demonstrate a critical understanding of a selection of the main theories, principles, ideas, facts, concepts and terminology relating to the chosen topic area

Practice: Applied Knowledge and Understanding SCQF Level 11.

B1 Ability to develop appropriate strategies to research and/or critically evaluate evidence in relation to contemporary social issues

B2 Develop a critical understanding of the practical and ethical challenges which researchers encounter in undertaking social research

Generic Cognitive skills SCQF Level 11.

C1 An ability to express complex ideas in written and oral form

C2 An ability to lead debates and participate in group discussions on contemporary research topics

Communication, ICT and Numeracy Skills SCQF Level 11.

D1 Apply critical analysis, evaluation and synthesis to issues which are at the forefront or informed by developments at the forefront of a subject/ discipline

D2 Critically identify and analyse conceptual and empirical problems relating to the study and understanding of the chosen topic area

D3 Draw on information from a variety of sources, including academic research publications, to offer sound and distinct insights on chosen research topic

Autonomy, Accountability and Working with others SCQF Level 11.

E1 Take responsibility for own work and its improvement in a reflective manner

E2 Exercising substantial autonomy and initiative while undertaking a range of learning activities

E3 Develop as an independent researcher: make informed judgements in respect of research design and data analysis

Pre-requisites: Before undertaking this module the student should have undertaken the following:
Module Code:
Module Title:
Co-requisitesModule Code:
Module Title:

* Indicates that module descriptor is not published.

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Learning and Teaching
The module uses innovative teaching and assessment approaches to engage students in the discipline of crisis communication. Students will experience a series of lectures, and class discussions, and student learning is elicited through group exercises, class presentations, a simulation, and essay writing.
Learning Activities
During completion of this module, the learning activities undertaken to achieve the module learning outcomes are stated below:
Student Learning Hours
(Normally totalling 200 hours):
(Note: Learning hours include both contact hours and hours spent on other learning activities)
Lecture/Core Content Delivery24
Practice Based Learning12
Independent Study164
200 Hours Total

**Indicative Resources: (eg. Core text, journals, internet access)

The following materials form essential underpinning for the module content and ultimately for the learning outcomes:

Coombs, W. T., and S. J. Holladay, eds. (2011). The handbook of crisis communication. Vol. 22. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.

Coombs, W. T. (2014). Ongoing crisis communication: Planning, managing, and responding. Thousand Oaks: SAGE.

Fearn-Banks, Kathleen. (2016) Crisis communications: A casebook approach. New York: Routledge.

Heath, R. L., and H. D. O'Hair, eds. (2010). Handbook of risk and crisis communication. London: Routledge.

Schwarz, C. eds. (2016). The handbook of international crisis communication research. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons. [electronic resource]

Journal of Applied Communication Research

Journal of Contingencies and Crisis Management

Journal of Public Relations Research

(**N.B. Although reading lists should include current publications, students are advised (particularly for material marked with an asterisk*) to wait until the start of session for confirmation of the most up-to-date material)

Engagement Requirements

In line with the Academic Engagement Procedure, Students are defined as academically engaged if they are regularly engaged with timetabled teaching sessions, course-related learning resources including those in the Library and on the relevant learning platform, and complete assessments and submit these on time. Please refer to the Academic Engagement Procedure at the following link: Academic engagement procedure

Where a module has Professional, Statutory or Regulatory Body requirements these will be listed here:
All fulltime students (part-time and distant learning students should check with their programme leader for any queries) are required to attend all scheduled classes and participate with all delivered elements of the module as part of their engagement with their programme of study. Consideration will be given to students who have protection under the appropriate equality law. Please refer to UWS Regulations, Chapter 1, 1.64 – 1.67, available at the following link:

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Supplemental Information

Programme BoardSocial Sciences
Assessment Results (Pass/Fail) No
Subject PanelPG Social Sciences
ModeratorA van der Zwet
External ExaminerK O'Connor
Accreditation Details
Version Number


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Assessment: (also refer to Assessment Outcomes Grids below)
Case study of crisis and response
(N.B. (i) Assessment Outcomes Grids for the module (one for each component) can be found below which clearly demonstrate how the learning outcomes of the module will be assessed.
(ii) An indicative schedule listing approximate times within the academic calendar when assessment is likely to feature will be provided within the Student Handbook.)

Assessment Outcome Grids (Footnote A.)

Component 1
Assessment Type (Footnote B.) Learning Outcome (1) Learning Outcome (2) Learning Outcome (3) Learning Outcome (4) Weighting (%) of Assessment ElementTimetabled Contact Hours
Presentationcheck mark  check mark300

Component 2
Assessment Type (Footnote B.) Learning Outcome (1) Learning Outcome (2) Learning Outcome (3) Learning Outcome (4) Weighting (%) of Assessment ElementTimetabled Contact Hours
Case studycheck markcheck markcheck mark 700
Combined Total For All Components100% 0 hours

A. Referred to within Assessment Section above
B. Identified in the Learning Outcome Section above

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  1. More than one assessment method can be used to assess individual learning outcomes.
  2. Schools are responsible for determining student contact hours. Please refer to University Policy on contact hours (extract contained within section 10 of the Module Descriptor guidance note).
    This will normally be variable across Schools, dependent on Programmes &/or Professional requirements.

Equality and Diversity
Aligned with the overall commitment to equality and diversity stated in the Programme Specifications, the module supports equality of opportunity for students from all backgrounds and with different learning needs. Using Moodle, learning materials will be presented electronically in formats that allow flexible access and manipulation of content (part-time and distant learning students should check with their programme leader for any queries). The module complies with University regulations and guidance on inclusive learning and teaching practice. Specialist assistive equipment, support provision and adjustment to assessment practice will be made in accordance with UWS policy and regulations. The University’s Equality, Diversity and Human Rights Policy can be accessed at the following link:
Our partners are fully committed to the principles and practice of inclusiveness and our modules are designed to be accessible to all. Where this module is delivered overseas, local equivalent support for students and appropriate legislation applies.
UWS Equality and Diversity Policy
(N.B. Every effort will be made by the University to accommodate any equality and diversity issues brought to the attention of the School)

2014 University of the West of Scotland

University of the West of Scotland is a Registered Scottish Charity.

Charity number SC002520.